Sample Memorandum of Understanding Business Partnership

An MoU template partnership agreement is an agreement between two or more parties outlined in a formal document. It is not legally binding but signals the willingness of the parties to move forward with a contract. The MoU template partnership agreement can be seen as the starting point for negotiations as it defines the scope and purpose of the talks. Such memoranda are most often seen in international treaty negotiations but also may be used in high-stakes business dealings such as merger talks.

However, the legal definition of an MOU differs in public affairs and in other countries. In international law, MOUs fall under the “treaty” category and must be registered as such with the United Nations. In the United Kingdom, an MOU is often used in context of agreements that pertain to the government. If your MOU deals with the public or international sector, consult a legal professional to make sure your document works the way you intend it to.

How a MoU template partnership agreement works

An MoU template partnership agreement is an expression of agreement to proceed. It indicates that the parties have reached an understanding and are moving forward. Although it is not legally binding, it is a serious declaration that a contract is imminent.

Under American law, an MoU is the same as a letter of intent. In fact, arguably a memorandum of understanding, a memorandum of agreement, and a letter of intent are virtually indistinguishable. All communicate an agreement on a mutually beneficial goal and a desire to see it through to completion.

MoU template partnership agreements communicate the mutually accepted expectations of the people, organizations, or governments involved. They are most often used in international relations because, unlike treaties, they can be produced relatively quickly and in secret. They also are in use in many U.S. and state government agencies, particularly when major contracts are in the planning stages.

Contents of a MoU template partnership agreement

An MoU template partnership agreement clearly outlines specific points of understanding. It names the parties, describes the project on which they are agreeing, defines its scope, and details each party’s roles and responsibilities. While not a legally enforceable document, the MoU is a significant step because of the time and effort involved in negotiating and drafting an effective document. To produce an MoU template partnership agreement, the participating parties need to reach a mutual understanding. In the process, each side learns what is most important to the others before moving forward.

The process often begins with each party effectively drafting its own best-case MoU template partnership agreement. It considers its ideal or preferred outcome, what it believes it has to offer to the other parties, and what points may be non-negotiable on its side. This is each party’s starting position for negotiations.

  1. Description of partner agencies

A good MoU template partnership agreement describes the agencies or entities of the partners, if such exist. For each member of the collaborative, provide some background on the agency or organization and its work regarding domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking.

  1. History of the relationship

An effective MoU template partnership agreement also includes the history of the relationship of the partners in question. It provides a brief history of the collaborative relationship between the partners, including when and under what circumstances the relationship began and when each partner joined the collaboration. It further specifies how often the collaborators meet.

Moreover, this section of the MoU template partnership agreement describes any changes in the collaboration, including an explanation or description of any new or additional partners that have been added. It also highlights any partners that would no longer participate. The section further describes the critical and long-range goals of the collaboration.

  1. Development of application

This section of the MoU template partnership agreement discusses the circumstances under which this application began. It also includes how recent collaboration aided in the development of the application. This section also specifies the extent of each party’s participation in developing the application.

  1. Roles and responsibilities

This section of the MoU template partnership agreement includes the roles and responsibilities that the partners agree on conducting. The partners should:

  1. Clearly state the roles and responsibilities each organization or agency will assume to ensure the success of the proposed project.
  2. Describe the resources each partner will contribute to the project either through time, in-kind contribution or with the use of grant funds. Such includes office space, project staff, training.
  • Identify the representatives of the planning and development team who will be responsible for planning. Other aspects include developing, and implementing project activities and describe how they will work together and work with project staff.
  1. Demonstrate a commitment on the part of all partners to work together to achieve stated project goals and to sustain the project once grant funds are no longer available.
  2. e) Commitment to Partnership

This section of the MoU template partnership agreement includes the collaboration service areas. Such could include the region in your state, tribe, territory, county, or multi-jurisdictional area. The partners agree to collaborate and provide a specific type of service or assistance to victims of certain situations. This is pursuant to the program narrative of the grant application attached to this agreement.

Advantages and disadvantages of an MoU template partnership agreement

An MoU template partnership agreement allows all parties to clearly state all of their objectives and goals. This makes for less uncertainty and prevents future unexpected disputes to occur. Furthermore, by clearly laying out what each party expects of the other, an MoU provides a blueprint for any contract both parties may or may not wish to draw up in the future.

The biggest drawback, of an MoU, however, depending on your point of view, is that it is not legally binding. While in some cases this may be a benefit, since neither party is required to do what they say in the MoU, they can simply walk away or change their expectations. MoUs can take significant time and planning to create and if one party completely changes their requirements, creating the MOU was a big waste of resources.

Moreover, memoranda of understanding are not enforceable contracts because no offers are presented and no transactions are made. This could be a drawback for partners who have already cemented the details of the transaction and are ready to legally commit. But for many, it is exactly because they are a step down from a formal contract that MOUs are so useful. An MOU is also one step up from the informal, unwritten “gentlemen’s agreement.” If casual, verbal comments are the most concrete artifacts you have of your potential partnership, a solid next step might be to elevate your conversations with an MOU.

That way you can establish a paper trail and keep negotiations moving forward. Each party has the opportunity to review the terms of the agreement, resolve any disputes or miscommunications, and make changes to the agreement before signing on the dotted line.

Real-life example of an MoU template partnership agreement

During trade talks with a representative of China in Washington in April 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter how long he expected U.S.-China memorandums of understanding to last. “I don’t like MOUs because they don’t mean anything,” the former president replied.1 After some discussion, it was decided that any document that emerged from the talks would be called a trade agreement, never an MoU template partnership agreement.

Common concerns regarding an MoU template partnership agreement

  1. Is an MoU a legal document?

An MoU is not legally binding, although it usually signals a legal contract is imminent.

  1. What is the difference between an MoU template partnership agreement and MOA?

An MoU is a document that describes very broad concepts of mutual understanding, goals, and plans shared by the parties. In contrast, an MOA is a document describing in detail the specific responsibilities of, and actions to be taken by, each of the parties so that their goals may be accomplished.

  1. How do you write an MoU template partnership agreement?

An MoU template partnership agreement should clearly state the following:

  1. What parties are involved
  2. The context of the agreement
  • The proposed date of when the agreement will become effective
  1. The contact details of all relevant parties
  2. The broad purpose of the agreement
  3. What each party is hoping to achieve
  • A space for all necessary signatures.
  1. Why is an MoU template partnership agreement important?

An MoU template partnership agreement is important because it allows each party to clearly state their objectives and what they expect from one another. Drafting an MOU can help solve any disputes before each party enters into a legally binding contract.

The Bottom Line

Although an MOU is not legally binding, it allows parties to prepare for signing a contract by explaining the broad concepts and expectations of their agreement. Communicating in clear terms what each party hopes to gain from an agreement can be essential to the smooth execution of signing a legal contract in the future.



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